The first shopping malls appeared on the scene in the early 1960s and today it’s difficult to find a town anywhere that doesn’t have a mall of some size – even if it’s just a few strip centers. As a contractor in years gone by, you might have visited the hardware store on main street for your screws and nails, but now most professionals head for the contractor desk at the nearest big block home improvement store. So what does this have to do with anything other than a brief history of how shopping malls have swept the nation?
The next time you’re walking through your local mall or driving past the strip centers in your town, take a look at all the empty spaces they may have. Construction companies have had a tough time in this economy, but many small retailers have had it just as bad. Large chain stores are often able to carry a poor performing location with other stores that have better sales, but a small local retailer may not make it if sales don’t meet expectations. While this is a sad situation for the store owner, it can be a chance for new work for your construction company.
Just about any time a new tenant moves into a space in a shopping mall or strip center there is renovation work that needs to take place. Large retailers often have a list of contractors they work with in various regions and it pays to get added to those lists whenever possible, but smaller stores often look to the mall owner for advice on who to hire – especially when the lease provides an allowance for modifications.
Working in a tenant space isn’t much different than any other type of commercial construction and if you’re used to homebuilding, the build-out is often much the same as residential framing, but you’re using metal studs. If you’re working in a mall, your crews may have to work at night during the loud phases of the project.
Check with your local malls to see if they maintain a list of preferred contractors and what qualifications need to be met to get added to the list. Smaller centers are often owned by local business people and all you may need to do is introduce yourself which can usually be done over lunch or an afternoon on the golf course.